Peter Seeger (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014) was an American folk singer and social activist. A fixture on nationwide radio in the 1940s, Seeger also had a string of hit records during the early 1950s as a member of the Weavers, notably their recording of Lead Belly's "Goodnight, Irene", which topped the charts for 13 weeks in 1950. Members of the Weavers were blacklisted during the McCarthy Era. In the 1960s, Seeger re-emerged on the public scene as a prominent singer of protest music in support of international disarmament, civil rights, counterculture, workers' rights, and environmental causes.

Quick facts: Pete Seeger, Background information, Birth na...
Pete Seeger
Seeger playing the banjo in 1955
Background information
Birth namePeter Seeger
Born(1919-05-03)May 3, 1919
New York City, U.S.
DiedJanuary 27, 2014(2014-01-27) (aged 94)
New York City, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • social activist
Instrument(s)
Years active1939–2014
Labels
Military career
Allegiance United States
Branch United States Army
Years of service1942–1945
Rank  Corporal
Unit  United States Army Band
Battles/warsWorld War II
Awards
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A prolific songwriter, his best-known songs include "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" (with additional lyrics by Joe Hickerson), "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)" (with Lee Hays of the Weavers), "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" (also with Hays), and "Turn! Turn! Turn!", which have been recorded by many artists both in and outside the folk revival movement. "Flowers" was a hit recording for the Kingston Trio (1962); Marlene Dietrich, who recorded it in English, German and French (1962); and Johnny Rivers (1965). "If I Had a Hammer" was a hit for Peter, Paul and Mary (1962) and Trini Lopez (1963) while the Byrds had a number one hit with "Turn! Turn! Turn!" in 1965.

Seeger was one of the folk singers responsible for popularizing the spiritual "We Shall Overcome" (also recorded by Joan Baez and many other singer-activists), which became the acknowledged anthem of the civil rights movement, soon after folk singer and activist Guy Carawan introduced it at the founding meeting of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960. In the PBS American Masters episode "Pete Seeger: The Power of Song", Seeger said it was he who changed the lyric from the traditional "We will overcome" to the more singable "We shall overcome".